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Reviews 357 munity through overseas migration of the household members. In part III the author proposes that the dowry system functions as the "basic relation of production" of "the domestic mode of production." The production of dowry is in fact a surplus production controlled by the elders who, through dowry and the exchange of women among the households, control the community. Psychoyios' theoretical model of 19th century Greek rural community seems in fact not very close to socio-economic reality. Isolated, landlocked communities with no relation to the external world, no contact with state institutions, whose social organization is based on the households and their social and economic strategies may have existed, but are they statistically significant? Moreover, can they be taken as the paradigm of traditional Greek society? Curiously enough, this model seems to reproduce a rather "retro" and nostalgic folk ideal of modern urban Greeks (and, for that matter, of many newly-developed urban mediterranean societies) concerning the long-dead rural Greek community. It is the folk ideal that describes the community as autarchic, agro-pastoral, patriarchal, elders in control, young people and women inferior but protected, the community in equilibrium; all this is shaken and destroyed when put into contact with the external, modern capitalist world, when money-lenders and government officials take over the elder's power. Maria Couroucli Laboratory of Ethnology and Comparative Sociology University of Paris X-Nanterre Nikos Kazantzakis, At the Palaces ofKnossos. Translated by Themi and Theodora Vasils. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. 1988. Pp. 218. Early in his career, Kazantzakis wrote children's books because he was interested in educational and linguistic reform. During the Metaxás dictatorship, he wrote them because he was desperately in need of money. At the Palaces ofKnossos was intended for serialization in 1941 in Neolaia, the periodical of the Metaxás youth movement, but never appeared there or elsewhere until Eléni Kazantzáki issued the novel posthumously 40 years later. The present translation is an adaptation by Theodora Vasils, who has deleted repetitious passages and in general has attempted to fashion a coherent whole out of the 358 Reviews hastily written installments that Kazantzakis prepared. The result is a fast-moving thriller that demonstrates Kazantzakis' narrative skill and is not at all burdened by his philosophical angst. The plot and characters are more or less familiar. We consort with Theseus, Aegeus, Minos, Ariadne, her sister Phaedra, Daedalus, Icarus (until he drowns), and are regaled with descriptions of snake dancing, bull-games, the labyrinth, and—of course—the Minotaur. Since the audience are children, Kazantzakis adds Haris, an adolescent hero, son of Aristides, Minos' blacksmith, who defects to Athens with the skill to produce the superweapon of the day, a dagger of steel rather than bronze. Ariadne gets her idea for the famous thread when her kitten playfully unrolls the skein she's using for her embroidery. Theseus dispatches the Minotaur, after first feeling sorry for it, finds his way out of the labyrinth, returns to Athens via Naxos (where Ariadne—who of course is in love with him—suddenly discovers she's more in love with Dionysus), forms an alliance with the Dorians, and returns with them to burn the palace (against his will) and marry Phaedra, thereby becoming the legitimate successor to the Cretan throne. At the end, with Theseus triumphantly back in Athens, Daedalus curses the day he invented the wings that killed his son, and vows to use his skill to create beautiful statues and temples of Pentelic marble. The seeds of 5th century Athens have been sown; swords are already being turned into plowshares. The charm of the book is that so little in it is serious. There is a hint here and there about slavery versus freedom, poverty versus conspicuous consumption, but not enough to undermine the deliciously imagined Minotaur, Ariadne's girlish enthusiasms, or the villainous excesses of that moribund ogre, King Minos. Nor should we seek consistency of characterization. Greedy Captain Fox suddenly turns altruistic, the unprincipled Minos becomes moral for an instant so that the plot may unwind, and so forth. No matter. We are interested in what happens next, not in why it happens. As...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 357-359
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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